A group of students from Hoover Elementary School, Coon Rapids, went holiday shopping the evening of Dec. 18, but not for themselves.
The students, who are members of the student council at the school, shopped at the Riverdale Target Greatland for seniors in need.
Through the student council’s annual Coins of Compassion campaign, Hoover students brought coins and dollars bills to the school over an eight-day period to be given to a good cause, according to Jane Hammes, second-grade teacher and student council adviser with fellow teacher Scott Tegtmeier.
For each donation, the student received a paper die cut sticker, Hammes said.
Every year the student council chooses a different beneficiary for its Coins of Compassion campaign and this year it was the Gifts for Seniors organization, she said.
Gifts for Seniors provides donated gifts and personal contact to isolated seniors in Twin Cities and surrounding communities through the engagement and support of volunteers and community partners, according to its website.
The student council campaign raised $1,100 with a competition between each grade to see who could raise the most money, Hammes said.
The winner was the fourth grade with $281 and those students will get an ice cream sundae party, Hammes said.
“But it was close,” she said. “Going into the last day, two grades were tied.”
With the money, 15 members of the student council, which has members from first- through fifth-grades, did the shopping accompanied by a parent to help them.
They were each given a $65 budget before tax to spend on gifts with specific items listed by Gifts for Seniors and when done, they brought their shopping carts full of gifts to the store’s front check-out where Hammes and Tegtmeier purchased them.
There were clothing and apparel items, including comfortable sweat suits, socks, pajamas, robes and slippers with non-skid soles; household items, including small appliances, sheet sets, pillows, blankets, towel sets, dishes and flatware and cordless phones; and recreation items, such as craft kits for adults, CD players and radios, on the list.
In addition, students at the school wrote notes on hand-decorated cards which were given to the seniors along with the gifts.
Representatives from Gifts for Seniors came to the school to pick up the gift purchases the next day, Dec. 19.
“The gifts filled the entire back of an SUV,” said Gretchen Olmscheid, Gifts for Seniors program coordinator.
“We received towel sets, blankets and throws, slippers, sweatshirt sets, crock pots, coffee makers, pajamas and robes, to name a few.”
“It was wonderful to have the students at Hoover Elementary School so engaged with the project of remembering the many isolated seniors in our community.”
The handmade cards along with the personal notes from the students “will surely bring a smile to any senior’s face,” according to Olmscheid.
Olmscheid shared a few of the handwritten notes.
Hunter in grade two wrote, “Dear Senior, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I hope you get great presents. Be sure to eat cookies but leave some for Santa.”
In her note, Laci in grade three wrote “you are a wonderful person,” while second-grade Sara wrote, “Happy holidays and I love you.”
According to Olmscheid, each agency that Gifts for Seniors supports receives one gift per senior.
However, because Gifts for Seniors gets a number of smaller items as well, it packages some pieces together to make one “substantial” gift, Olmscheid wrote in an email.
“The agencies gift wrap and personally deliver each gift to the seniors they serve,” she wrote.
It is estimated that the gifts received from Hoover will serve some 60 seniors, Olmscheid said.
The 65 agencies partnering with Gifts for Seniors serve anywhere from five to 140 seniors, with the average size of an agency at 45-50, she said.
“So, Hoover Elementary is providing enough gifts to supply an entire agency,” Olmscheid wrote.
The entire numbers are not in yet for the season, but over 3,000 isolated seniors are expected to be served in the seven-county metro area by Gifts for Seniors this holiday season, according to Olmscheid.
“It is great to bring awareness to kids of all ages about seniors and the great need there is to be remembered,” Olmscheid wrote in the email.
Members of the Hoover student council are:
• Grade one: Brody Falck, Nicholas Reiland, Charlie Nohner, Marlena Roby, Sophie Beck.
• Grade two: Tyus Ashton, Elizabeth Gohdes, Paul Callahan, Carlos Santana.
• Grade three: Foad Zeunu, Avah Bensonen, Mimi Pham.
• Grade four: Evan James, Alli Hill, Brianna Anderson.
• Grade five: Cassi Ruschmeyer, Kailey Robinson, Ethan Tedrow.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]